Last Friday, April 26, the Yanoun team witnessed a large non-violent action by communities to reclaim their lands from the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra.
We met with leaders of the villages and municipalities of Deir Jarir, At Tayba, Silwad and Rammun and traveled to a hill top that had been occupied earlier in the month by settlers from Ofra. Earlier in the week, settlers from Ofra entered the Deir Jarir village and set fire to 10 cars, responding to the peaceful demonstration by community members the previous week. Hard to imagine such lawlessness.
Over 500 villagers, including young, old and infirm, were there, along with a Greek Orthodox priest, Muslim imam and member of the parliament of the Palestinian Authority.
Many of those assembled joined in prayer, laying their prayer mats among the stones and boulders of the hill top. It was moving to see so many practicing their faith in this place.
After the prayers ended at 1 p.m., this mass of humanity poured down the hill side toward the waiting Israeli military positioned outside the settlement.
As the first demonstrators came close to the military, cannisters of tear gas were launched into their midst. The group flowed upwind away from the gas and kept advancing. More military arrived. More cannisters of gas were fired, some of them starting fires in the ground cover. And then settlement security arrived and the volume of tear gas launches increased dramatically.
By 1:35 p.m. the demonstration ended and the crowd dispersed without any injuries or arrests. We were asked by community leaders to come every Friday to witness their resolve to stand against the settlements.
And, as posted yesterday on this blog, the media reported that settlers retaliated by uprooting and burning olive trees owned by two Palestinian farmers.
So, the conflict goes on.